Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Why I became a Chemical Engineer

I've had my interns write about their personal decisions to become chemical engineers, so I figured it was only fair to share my own reasoning.

When I was in high school my parents were constantly asking what I was going to do when I grew up. Knowing full well that becoming a professional athlete or lottery winner was not only highly improbable, but also was not a good enough answer for my parents. So, I did the next best thing, I picked the occupation with the highest salary for a bachelor degrees.

Wow, just writing that sounds incredibly shallow, but it wasn’t my intention at all. I was trying to be pragmatic. As a 16 or 17 year old, I didn’t really appreciate the magnitude of that decision, I just wanted to be financially secure as an adult. 

Growing up, I decided that I was going to pick a profession that was financially secure so that I wouldn’t have to make financial sacrifices like my parents did. My parents always put an emphasis on education, so it was a foregone conclusion that I would go to college. So around when I was being asked about my future career, a prominent US magazine put out a ranking of the bachelor degrees that earned the most money. I immediately went right to #1 and picked chemical engineering. It was a quick decision and I didn't realize how that snap decision would shape my life.

I am incredibly lucky that I was able to handle the rigors of the Chemical Engineering program, and truth be told, I actually enjoyed it. The Chemical Engineering program taught me the fundamental principles of engineering, how to approach a problem, and how to reason through that problem. While I went on to get my MBA part-time while I worked, I still use my chemical engineering background daily as the product marketing manager for the SimSci-Esscor software line of Chemical Engineering software.

It still amazes me to this day that the snap decision of a 16 or 17 year old could have such a profound positive effect on my life. I truly enjoyed my time in the Villanova Chemical Engineering program, and later at the Villanova School of Business so much so that I can’t imagine any other track for my life.